Trait mindfulness is primarily associated with depression and not with fatigue in multiple sclerosis (MS): implications for mindfulness-based interventions

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BMC Neurol. 2021 Mar 16;21(1):115. doi: 10.1186/s12883-021-02120-z.


OBJECTIVES: Persons with MS (PwMS) often display symptoms of depression and fatigue. Mindfulness-based interventions are known to counteract these symptoms. However, to-date the exact relations between trait mindfulness, depression and fatigue remain to be examined. Fatigue is generally regarded as a symptom immanent to the disease and as a direct neurobiological consequence of increased cytokine levels and cortical atrophy. In depression on the other hand, psychosocial factors in the context of adaptation difficulties are probably of higher relevance. Hence, one may argue that mindfulness, as a trait that promotes successful adaption, may show a strong negative association with depression and a relatively minor negative association with fatigue in PwMS.

METHODS: In the current study, the association between self-reported trait mindfulness, fatigue and depression was examined in a sample of 69 PwMS.

RESULTS: Trait mindfulness showed highly significant negative correlations with both, depression and fatigue. Mediation analyses however, revealed that depression mediated the relation between mindfulness and fatigue.

CONCLUSION: It may be concluded that in PwMS, trait mindfulness shows a genuine negative association with depression, but that it is only secondarily associated with fatigue. Implications for mindfulness-based interventions in MS are discussed. Based on the results of the current study, it may be feasible to promote the acceptance of default fatigue symptoms, instead of an actual reduction of fatigue symptoms.

PMID:33726702 | DOI:10.1186/s12883-021-02120-z

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